After someone passes away, the state performs a formal process known as probate to distribute his or her property to family members and beneficiaries. The executor of the estate is responsible for gathering and listing the deceased’s assets for the probate court, paying any outstanding debts and taxes, and distributing assets to the intended beneficiaries. While this may sound like a straightforward process, there are many pros and cons to probate proceedings that can help determine whether it is the right way to pass on property.
Do I Want My Assets to Avoid the New York Probate Process?
First, let’s talk about the advantages of going through probate. If someone dies without a will, probate provides a framework for the legal transfer of property to his or her family members. Also, probate gives creditors a chance to come forward and receive payment for any bills that were not paid by the decedent. Once the estate has been probated, creditors cannot make any further claims for payment.
That said, some people may choose not to go through probate due to the following concerns:
- Privacy. Probate is a public proceeding, which means details such as the name of the decedent, value of the estate, and inheritors may be entered into public records.
- Inheritance delays. Beneficiaries cannot take physical control of assets in probate until after the estate has been settled. While the timeframe for probate varies, it can take anywhere from several months to a year or more. This means items cannot be removed from the decedent’s residence, sold, donated, or even change hands between relatives until the court issues permission.
- Stress. Probate requires mental and physical energy that loved ones may not be able to give while they are grieving.
- Cost. Probate comes with a number of filing fees, taxes, and court costs that can eat into the amount that will eventually be distributed to beneficiaries. The executor may also charge a fee for the time and effort it takes to compile records, sort through belongings, and make phone calls in the service of the estate.
Our attorneys practice many facets of estate planning law, from determining the best way to pass on property to helping executors sail through the probate process. Contact us today through our online form to set up an initial consultation with a probate attorney.